Raising guinea fowl, also referred to as guinea chicken, is ideal for those with property. Keeping guinea fowl confined creates chaos, these birds need room to roam. However, raising guineas with chicken and other poultry is achievable, but you must know how.
They are known as nature’s alarm system for a reason, and they do their job quite well. At times a little to well. A confusion of guinea fowl (you read that right) is extremely protective of its members. And might I add, they produce the most delicious eggs and meat around.
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They are not the most attractive bird due their odd head, but they have great qualities. Adding to the property as no other poultry or fowl does.
Is Raising Guinea Fowl Ideal?
Because of their screeching alarm, raising guinea fowl is not for everyone. Well, what really should be said is this, raising guinea fowl is not ideal for urban homesteaders.
In truth, guinea fowl are not ideal if you live in close proximity to a neighbor. Their daily communication is irritable to many. Though it is a guinea’s warning siren scream that will have the neighbors quite frustrated with you.
Guinea fowl do best with room to roam, and do not handle confinement well. These birds are extremely territorial and do best free ranging or kept in an extremely large enclosure.
In short, reconsider raising guinea fowl if you or a neighbor cannot handle the extremely loud way they communicate.
Nature’s Best Alarm System
Guinea fowl communicate in 3 ways, and there is no reasoning with this type of bird when they go into alarm mode.
Their basic form of communication is a gentle, sweet chirping sound. It is so sweet that at times it is easy to forget there’s a siren built into them.
Hens issue a double syllable repetitive call which sounds like, “buckwheat-buckwheat”. Which is also know as the, “I need attention!” call.
The males are generally quite and content with chirping. When calling for a hen the roo issues a one syllable call. The sound begins as a pur and becomes increasingly loud the more agitated he is. From there the pur will lead into a single syllable, “buckwheat” call or the alarm scream.
The final call is similar to a screeching siren, and it is the warning call. For lack of better words, it is loud, and almost deafening. A constant screechy scream which causes all members of the confusion to join in.
A confusion of guinea fowl screeching and screaming sounds like 100 banshees circling you while screaming in your ear.
This alarm is sounded for a few reason, and when it goes off it is always best to see why. More times than not, there is a predator in the area. In our case, a bobcat, coyote or hawk. Though that’s not the only reason why guinea fowl will alarm:
- A flock member has strayed too far.
- You wore the wrong color hat, their shadow spooked them, or a stranger is on the property.
I do not exaggerate when I stated, wearing the wrong color hat is reason enough for guinea fowl to alarm. Any type of change drives these birds crazy, making you the enemy.
Keeping Guinea Fowl – Minimize Ticks and Other Bugs
Aside from a guinea’s ability to alert the flock of potential danger, they are great at keeping the insects population under control.
Guineas are excellent at keeping the tick population down. These birds will also consume fleas, mosquito larva, crane flies, and variety of other bugs.
But it doesn’t stop there. Guinea fowl have been known to consume snakes and small rodents without hesitation.
Raising Guineas with Chickens
Raising guineas with chickens. Can this be achieved? In short the answer is, yes. However, guineas are much more compatible living with ducks. Does this surprise you?
Before we get to why ducks are more compatible, there are a few things you must know about the breed first.
However, individuals who are raising guinea fowl can attest to the fact that they care capable of being trained to return to the coop each evening. Though the training must begin as keets (guinea ‘chicks’).
Guineas prefer to roost outdoors, and as high as they can possibly fly up to. It is not uncommon during the summer months for the confusion to roost on the higher branches of a tree. Or on top of the coop. Maybe even the roof of your house.
Begin by putting the brooder into the structure where you’d like them to return to roost. Allowing the keets to grow-out in this space conditions them to know this as a safe space to return to nightly.
Once they leave the brooder make sure to have a high roosting bar available for them. Because guinea fowl prefer to roost high, they will bully chickens and other poultry off the roost in order to claim this spot.
Just keep in mind, every once in awhile guineas like to bunk outdoors. There’s no way to work around this unless you plan to keep them in an enclosed run.
Earlier I stated, guineas are more compatible with ducks verses chickens. This is a very true statement.
Guinea fowl are crazy, skittish, and do not like being handled. Do not expect any love from them. They are raised for a few specific reasons, and guinea keepers remind themselves of this daily.
Unlike chickens, ducks move at a much slower, confident, I-don’t-care-what-you-think pace. Chickens are the complete opposite. They are naturally skittish, flighty, and prone to jump or run when charged; making them a prime candidate to be bullied.
In order to stay high in the pecking order guineas will aggressively protect what they consider to be theirs. This includes feeding bowls, waterers, roosting spots, and whatever space they are currently occupying.
Because ducks are calmer than chickens the guinea fowl tend to leave them alone. Making the common space neutral territory for these two breed of fowl.
Chickens, including turkeys, do not stand a chance against guineas. These birds will aggressively attack hens, rooster, and turkey at any given moment. Most times the less aggressive bird will be chased off, loosing a few feathers as it runs away.
However, a minor attack can turn aggressive quickly, often resulting in a bloody mess. We have witnessed guineas attacking as a pack, often go after the victim’s head.
This is the why guineas, chickens, and turkeys should not be kept in a small run together. A mixed flock does best free ranging or kept in an extremely large space.
AKA Guinea Chicken – Eggs and Meat Production
Guinea hens are seasonal layers, often laying from late spring to mid fall. Unlike chicken, this breed tends to lays their eggs in hiding, usually deep in the thicket of the woods.
Much like training guinea fowl to return to the coop nightly, the hens can be trained to lay their eggs in nesting boxes. Actually, this is more likely to happen when they consider the coop to be a safe place.
Guinea eggs are delicious, containing more yolk than whites and are ideal for baking or making pasta. Homemade egg noodles made with guinea eggs are fabulous!
Guinea eggs are much smaller in size than other poultry. Because the pointy end of the egg is quite pointy, it makes them easier to identify. The egg shell is as hard as a rock and the color of the shell is available in various shades of tan, and at time speckles.
Guinea chicken meat is quite lean and mainly dark. It is gamy in flavor and ideal for roasting or added to stews.
When dispatching the birds make sure to save the feathers. Feathers have a stunning polka dot pattern and are ideal for making jewelry, crafting, and making lures for fly fishing.
Purchasing Hatching Eggs or Keets
Because adult guinea fowl are very territorial, incorporating adults from one property to the next is not often successful. The adult birds have no commitment to the new property and tend to wander off.
The younger the guinea fowl are when they arrive, the more likely they will remain on the property. In order to ensure that raising guinea fowl will be successful, and that they remain on the property, incorporate keets (guinea chicks) or purchase hatching eggs.
Keets and hatching eggs can be purchased locally, through NPIP breeders, or from credible hatcheries such as, Murray McMurray Hatchery.
Set-up a keet brooder as you would a chick brooder. However, if a broody hen (chicken or guinea) is available, minimize your work load by offering the broody hen fertilized eggs to hatch.
A Flock’s Journey
Raising keets to become healthy guinea fowl means caring for their well being from day one. Join a community who makes raising poultry as important as you do.
A flock’s journey takes you through each phase of raising fowl and poultry, from brooder to coop. From feed to supplements. Calming nesting box herbs to herbs for better health. Whatever it is, you’ll find the information needed by taking this journey with your confusion!